In the past, the only times when Oregon has found itself with fewer total jobs compared to the same month in the prior year has been during recessionary periods, said OCPP policy analyst Michael Leachman. He cautioned that economists consider more than just jobs numbers when determining whether to apply the recession label but said the jobs trend is a key indicator.

“Based on the official state economic forecast, we can expect the current jobs downturn to be roughly equivalent to the mild recession of the early 1990s,” Leachman said. “Whether the current downturn is officially called a recession matters little to Oregonians who are out of work. They need help, whether it’s official or not.”

Leachman projected that the number of jobs in Oregon for every 100 working-age Oregonians will be lower this year than it was in 2002, during the last recessionary period.

“When you compare today’s job numbers to the growth in working-age Oregonians, the picture isn’t pretty,” he said. “The mismatch results in workers losing bargaining power, making wage gains more difficult to achieve.”

In the statement released by the OCPP, Leachman goes on to suggest that the State unemployment insurance need modernization in terms of how employment is classified.

“We must update our unemployment insurance system to reflect the changes in our economy and in technology, so that it fulfills its intended purpose of providing a bridge for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and allows employers to be able to get those employees back,” he said.